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  • The original Rudolph did not have a red nose. In that day and age, red noses were seen as an indicator of chronic alcoholism and Montgomery Ward didn’t want him to look like a drunkard. To complete the original picture, he was almost named Reginald or Rollo.
  • The Christmas wreath was originally hung as a symbol of Jesus. The holly represents his crown of thorns and the red berries the blood he shed.
  • The three traditional colors of most Christmas decorations are red, green and gold. Red symbolizes the blood of Christ, green symbolized life and rebirth, and gold represents light, royalty and wealth.
  • Tinsel was invented in 1610 in Germany and was once made of real silver.
  • The oldest artificial Christmas trees date back to the late 1800s and were made of green raffia (think grass hula skirts) or dyed goose feathers. Next the Addis Brush Company used their machinery that wove toilet brushes to create pine-like branches for artificial Christmas trees that were less flammable and could hold heavier decorations.
  • ‘Jingle Bells’ – the popular Christmas song was composed by James Pierpont in Massachusetts, America. It was, however, written for thanksgiving and not Christmas.
  • Coca-Cola was the first company that used Santa Claus during the winter season for promotion.
  • Hallmark introduced their first Christmas cards in 1915.
  • The first recorded date of Christmas being celebrated on December 25th was in 336, during the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine. A few years later, Pope Julius I officially declared that the birth of Jesus would be celebrated on that day.
  • Santa Claus's sleigh is led by eight reindeer: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Dunder (variously spelled Donder and Donner), and Blixem (variously spelled Blixen and Blitzen), with Rudolph being a 20th-century inclusion.
  • Outdoor Christmas lights on homes evolved from decorating the traditional Christmas tree and house with candles during the Christmas season. Lighting the tree with small candles dates back to the 17th century and originated in Germany before spreading to Eastern Europe.
  • That big, jolly man in the red suit with a white beard didn’t always look that way. Prior to 1931, Santa was depicted as everything from a tall gaunt man to a spooky-looking elf. He has donned a bishop's robe and a Norse huntsman's animal skin. When Civil War cartoonist Thomas Nast drew Santa Claus for Harper's Weekly in 1862, Santa was a small elflike figure who supported the Union. Nast continued to draw Santa for 30 years, changing the color of his coat from tan to the red he’s known for today.
  • Christmas 2018 countdown has already begun. Will you be ready???
  • Why do we love Christmas? It's all about the traditions. In this chaotic world we can miss the "good old days." Christmas reminds us of that time.


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About Trowelfaz

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  • Birthday 04/22/1971

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  • Location
    Chicago Far West 'burbs, Illinois, USA
  • Biography
    Dabbles in just about anything that even slightly interests me!
  • Interests
    Computers, electronics, radio control, christmas lights
  • Occupation
  • About my display
    Mixture of LOR, D-LIGHT and DIO
  1. I was considering the sprinkler wire route, primarily due to the # of wires in a bundle (and 16-18 AWG) and the price point. I may need to rethink that since stripping old/dead strings is a real pain, not to mention the splicing I will need to do for the run lengths (thus incurring more voltage drop which LEDs don't like).
  2. I have 68 channels on my mega tree, and the cord run is ~40 feet from tree to house. I usually put the controllers in the yard strapped to the mast, but I am always fearful of vandalism or theft (I do have night vision cameras recording). This year, I am wanting to put the controllers in the house where my others ones are, but don't want to/can't break the bank buying yet more extension cords (68*50 ft/each adds up on top of the hundreds I have already bought over the years). I have many bins full of old incandescent mini lights and was thinking I could cannibalise the wires from them and string a bunch in garden hoses (using a #10 shared neutral for each 8 wire bundle, corresponding to each 8 channels on a LOR board. To make the correct lengths (I think I can get around 22'-25' from each string), I can splice 2 lengths together, using outdoor/UV wire splice kits. At the controller side, I will use Molex connectors. At the tree side, I haven't decided if I want to make sealed power strips or outdoor/weatherproof molex-type connectors. Anyone do this already? I am not overly concern about over-amperage since I am using LED's (70 count mostly with only a few channels at 140 count) and figure if these wires are already rated for AC use (@ ~1.3 amps) and are for outdoor use, there shouldn't be any harm in bundling up 8 of them in a garden hose.
  3. Trowelfaz

    Got tagged

    Only if I find that frayed extension cord burried in the snow....
  4. No, I hand-sequenced it (actually, just set up a short sequence and cut-and-paste). I'll have to check out the VU Wizard.......
  5. That is great! And I love the song you did with it. I did a similar effect on my porch posts using 3 steps of LEDs. See :33 seconds in at http://www.twinkleclaus.com/?q=node/299 for my feeble attempt.
  6. Trowelfaz

    Got tagged

    This is not exactly the kind of lights discussion that normally occurs in this forum, but it does have to do with lights. My wife got me tagged for Christmas. I'll take a better pic once the swelling goes down and the colors come out more.
  7. This evening, as I was sequencing another song, my six year old wandered in to see what I was up to. I sat her on my lap to watch (via the LOR animation window) the song I had just finished. She was awestruck, and said 'this is awesome', 'very beautiful' and 'better than last year'. Also, 'is that the big tree?' (yes). 'WOW! Daddy, I can't wait until you put it all up.' She had a tear in her eyes as she watched it two more times. Needless to say, this makes the management of these 256 channels all the more bearable. p.s. She watches the DVD I made of last years display many times throughout the year. Even though the display goes down after Christmas, the songs and lights continue the entire year.
  8. I apologize if this has already been posted, but Menards have off-brand LED's (17' length) for around $6.88 with a $3.00 rebate. I don't know if they are any good, nor what the limit is on the rebate, but seemed like a good deal. I didn't get any since I needed LED icicles, and these were multi, green, white and blue strands.
  9. For my 'digital' look, I cheated this year. Initially, I started soldering up a bunch of LED's for a circuit I built. However, that got boring very quick, and with other projects needing my attention, I decided to do a quick digital for this year, then convert to a 'real' digital display next year. Basically, I masked/painted a piece of clear plexi (from the HW store), then built a light box: I originally made blackouts for the seqments to go behind the painted plexi, printed on transparency paper, but the light still bled through so I opted to instead create blackouts on transparency paper with electrical tape and insert them in front of the painted plexi. At night, you can't even tell! Once the sign goes out (next week!) I will post a pic of the finished product. As for the Tune To sign, I simply masked/painted a piece of plexi with my radio station since it does not change.
  10. Trowelfaz

    Mini sockets?

    Thanks. I shouldn't have used the term vampire taps in the same context of the mini sockets, but figured someone might better understand what I am looking for. Also, right-on about needing to understand how many mini's can be joined together in a run! Just like working with LEDs (well, almost). I am already kind of limited since I want to run it on DC power, so need to be creative on the series/parallel wiring to begin with. I have already calculated the needed voltage vs number of bulbs, so now just need to hook it up. Guess it is time to dig out the box of 'bad' strands and start chopping.
  11. I found some trailer hookup wire at various places on the net for pretty good prices. It is 16/4. The AWG16 wire zipped in a 4 bundle for [email protected] seems like a pretty good deal when looking at 18/2 SPT. I believe the #16 wire will more than suit my 120v load for lighting extensions (and is 'outdoors' proof), but cannot find the loss or insulation ratings. Since I am looking at 3-4amps maxium draw @ 120v for runs of 3'-20', does this seem like it will work OK? I'm trying to lessen the diameter the tree trunk bundle of extension cords to my eve's this year by distributing things around a bit, and a multi-wire zip seems like the best use of space for the low draw/runs.
  12. Trowelfaz

    Mini sockets?

    I have a project for which mini lights would be perfect for. However, I need specific configuration/spacing that is not easily recreated using standard 35-100ct mini strands. Can one buy the mini sockets w/bulb retainers, maybe in a pin or vampire type configuration? I could cannibalize some older strands and cut-solder as needed, but I would rather a clean configuration if possible.
  13. Joe Klemencic Pingree Grove, IL (far west suburb) Mixture of LOR, D-Light and DIO Number of channels: LOTS! We put on Santa's Landing in Pingree Grove, a neighborly effort featuring a night of Santa for the kids (after arriving by fire truck), handing out trinkets and candy canes, hot chocolate, and sometimes Chili. Last year, the Grinch even made a showing and did a little dance! All of this is in front of the animated display! While I enjoy the planning and creating, and get the joy after the first lighting, my personal joy continues each night by watching the numerous spectators and kids that come by to listen to the music over FM radio while watching the lights. Other houses around me get into it as well with their Mr. Christmas boxes, and even have a neighbor a few streets over that went LOR last year. However, the night of Santa's Landing is the big 'party', to share a little Christmas spirit with all who come and visit. See the videos at http://www.twinkleclaus.com
  14. I am moving much of my display over to LED's I picked up on sale last year, but am short ~5000 red LED's to match things up. I have a bunch of incandescent strings to cannibalize (you know the ones - those that don't light anymore and have had bulbs stripped out to replace others), and since I have to chop up the strings for the layout I want, I was thinking about replacing the bulbs with LED's since it *should* be cheaper than spending a ton on more full LED strings. I assume I need 5mm LED's since the existing sockets seem to be 5mm. I plan on using non-conductive silicone to seal the LED into the removable bulb socket. Anyone know a good cheap source for bulk LED's? I am looking for a forward voltage of about 2-3 volts (depending on the forward voltage, I will be using 30-50 in series on 120V).
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